Should You Take Starting a Law Firm Classes in Law School?
This post is from the first blog I started, called “How to Start a Law Firm.” Over the years I’ve moved to different sites a few times and wanted to catalog all of my content in one place. If an article refers to a link and there is no link, sorry, that’s consequence of the move. Enjoy!
The origin of this post, as with many posts, is a reader question. I wanted to take a minute, while I’ve got your attention here at the top of the page, to point out that I absolutely love reader questions. Although a big part of this blog is documenting my journey of starting a law firm, it’s also become a way for me to specifically talk to all of you out there that are thinking about opening your own shop. And, while I can guess what you are thinking and what you’d like to know based on my own experience, I’d much rather just have you ask me questions that I can answer. If they are good questions, we can start a discussion in the comments. If they are great questions, I’ll write a separate post about them and we can discuss from there.
Whether or not to take starting a law firm classes in law school seemed to me to be a great question, so here we are discussing it.
Solo Practice Law Firm Curriculum
I must admit two things here as we get started on this post. First, I didn’t take a class like this when I was in law school, and I don’t think one was offered (I was in law school 2002-2005). Second, as with most of these posts, I’m writing off the cuff here, so hopefully if we veer off track we get back on eventually.
As I’m sitting here thinking about whether or not a class like this would be worth your time I guess what’s most important is what the curriculum is. I can think of some things I think would be vital to learn in a class like this, namely:
Creating a business plan;
Creating a marketing plan (not the same thing as a business plan in my book);
Basic accounting (Quickbooks 101 – not whatever you learn in business law);
Marketing 101 (this would be a practical part of the class – the plan would be theory);
And then the rest of the class would be spent talking about what it means to own a business, what it means to be a business owner as opposed to a lawyer, and everything that goes along with that.
If the curriculum is filled with things like “how to pick the best printer” and “should you have a virtual office or a real office or a home office,” I would probably pass. You might have some of that in a how to start a law firm valium online class, but those things aren’t rocket science – you need a printer, go get a printer.
You couldn’t tell, but I just did a little bit of web browsing to see what was being offered out there by law schools. I wasn’t too impressed, to be honest with you. And, I don’t even have high expectations. I mean, what can you expect to get from a law school, whose sole purpose for many many years has been to teach the law? Flexibility, strategic thinking, marketing, and other business concepts are simply foreign to most law school professors, administrators, and other faculty.
On the Bright Side, It Can’t Hurt
This has been a long journey for me. In that time I’ve learned a lot about running a law firm. I’ve also learned a lot about what I don’t want to do to run a law firm. This course, for you, is probably just going to be an experience you have to get involved in if you’re thinking about starting a solo law practice out of law school. Even if you get one good nugget out of the experience, it’s probably worth it. You’ll also get to hang out with the coolest kids in law school.
What I Would do if I Were Opening My Firm Right Out of Law School
I’ve already talked about what I would do if I were opening a law firm right out of law school before, so I’ll give you the abbreviated version here.
1. Get in that class. It’s law school credit, you’ll probably make some good contacts, and you might even learn something you can take with you.
2. Start reading everything you can get your hands on. I’d read every starting a law firm book you can, every sales book that interests you, the one about the “E-myth” (can’t remember the exact name), and any other book I’ve ever mentioned on here.
3. Find a mentor, probably someone that is not in your practice area but that is in one that works similar to yours (i.e. criminal defense and personal injury are related in the way they work in a lot of ways). Buy them lunch and ask them as many questions as you can.
4. Get a job with someone that is successful in the area you want to practice in and then watch everything they do – keep the good stuff and forget the bad.
5. Stop worrying about how to practice law and start thinking a lot about how you are going to get clients.
6. If you can find someone that can offer you an experience like this, take it.
Pretty easy, right? 🙂
Okay. Now’s the time you let me know what you think. Comments, questions, thoughts, and whatever else you can type are welcome.